- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Montgomery County’s smoking ban has had no impact on tax revenue or employment at restaurants in the county, according to an economic-impact study funded by anti-smoking agencies.

“After examining objective tax and employment data, the fears of the Montgomery County hospitality industry suffering economic hardship due to the smoke-free law have not been realized,” the study’s researchers said in a 16-page report released yesterday.

The study of Montgomery County’s two-year-old ban on smoking in public spaces will likely encourage the D.C. Council, which is considering a similar ban. The majority of the 13-member council has voiced support for smoke-free legislation.

The study was conducted by William N. Evans, an economics professor at the University of Maryland at College Park, and Andrew Hyland, a research scientist for the Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Maryland State Medical Society and the Smoke Free Maryland Coalition funded a grant for the study.

In their study, Mr. Evans and Mr. Hyland compared tax and employment data from Montgomery County, nearby Maryland counties and Fairfax County, which has not imposed a smoking ban. The tax and employment data included periods before and after Montgomery County enacted its ban in 2003.

The smoking ban had no impact on restaurant revenue or employment, the researchers reported.

“These results are true regardless of whether the restaurant had a liquor license or not,” they said.

What’s more, the researchers said, “employment tended to increase in restaurants with liquor licenses, while it decreased in restaurants without liquor licenses with no net overall change” in the wake of the smoking ban.

“One possible explanation is that patronage patterns shifted slightly toward establishments that served liquor but were now required to be smoke-free,” they said.

Montgomery County required all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, to be smoke-free on Oct. 9, 2003. Rockville implemented a similar ban Feb. 1, 2004, and Gaithersburg did likewise March 22, 2004.

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